Elinchrom Octabank substitute

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by frank_gross, Nov 27, 2006.

  1. I'm looking for a low budget/economical alternative to the Elinchrom Octabank.
    I want to use a large, evenly spread, single source, light for location
    Space is always cramped so it's a balance and a compromise between size, depth
    and portability. The larger the better though in terms of the the soft, smooth,
    wrap-around look achieved. These two famed shooters both say they use the
    Elinchrom Octabank http://www.greenfield-sanders.com/ and annie leibovitz.

    thanks for any suggestions,
  2. lots of high end portrait shooters use the Elinchrom Octabank, the light really is different
    than from other designs that look similar. BAsically the difference is that the Octabank is
    similar to an umbrella with the light source pointing into the bowl and that bounced light
    then comes out through the diffuser. You can get a similar effect by using a large softbox
    or umbrella (by large I mean about 72" in diameter) with a larger diffusion screen in front
    of it -- but that isn't as movable and you need at least two extra stands and grip heads in
    addition to the diffusion screen and frame --and it still doesn't quite look like Octabank
    light. Proximity to subject is a factor too.

    I have read accounts by a former Leibovitz assistant where he talks about how Annie will
    have her assistants shoot tests a few days before a portrait session where for particular
    shots they would experiment with single, double and sometimes triple layers of diffusion n
    the Octabank that she uses with her Profoto heads. If they are going to that much trouble
    my guess is that they would also try different types of diffusion material as well. Ms.
    Leibovitz's sessions are similar to large budget film shoots in terms of meticulous
    planning, organization, preparation, crew and execution --and budget.
  3. The Timothy Greenfield-Sanders portraits in the link above (thanks Frank) certainly make the point that a large diffused light source, such as the Octobank can produce a VERY DRAMATIC lighting.
  4. Thanks Ellis, I agree that it's the fact that it bounces first and then comes through the diffuser (or additional/alternate diffusers) that gives it that smooth and soft quality. The challenge softbox makers have is to get the light to spread evenly acroos the box, and bouncing first certainly helps achieve that. Of course the more you bounce and diffuse the light the more flash power you need in order to get a decent f-stop.
    My thread title should have been something like "which large soft boxes (other than elinchrom octabanks) first bounce the light within the box".
    Maybe I'll try that. I cant believe they're the only one...no wonder they sell for such a high price.
  5. The Plume Wafer softboxes produce very even light from center to edge are are very efficient
    as well: you get what you pay for with Plume . Evenesswith any softbox also depends o nthe
    flash head design. A baretube head produces the most even light in any softbox.

    The Octabank is very efficient
  6. Thanks. I think you're right that you get what you pay for and there is probably no cheap substitute for the right thing.
    I'll try and check out the Plume wafer.
    Also I see that there is a Westcott http://www.fjwestcott.com/products/octabank.htm
    and also
    a Photoflex Octodome.
    I assume these 3 are "copies" of the Elinchrom Octa bank and also have the naked head inside the unit bouncing prior to exiting the diffusion panel.
    It wouls be great to see or read a side by side comparison - the dealers in this neck of the woods dont carry such a variety and the manufacturers sites arent always that clear.
  7. 60inch photek softlighter II should simulate the same thing
  8. Thanks. The Softlighter II does indeed look interesting - anyone know what the light fall off is at the edges? It's a fraction of the cost of the elinchrom octa bank or the plume wafer....any comments on what you're losing out on?

  9. 60inch photek softlighter II should simulate the same thing
    I've got two of those. I like them a lot but the light quality is different from the Elinchrom Octabank: I 'd describe it has harder edged and more focused. The EWestcotts aare a very different design. The heads face forward (towards the diffusion screen.
  10. stb


    They make them in very large sizes, like 80" and 150". Should give an interesting light. Not
  11. Is the light even right across the Softliter II ? What is the fall-off at the edges ? Apparently (I may be wrong) the elinchrom is no more than 1/3 stop
  12. The Beauty Light is a pain in the neck to take on location, but I never regret it. The look it gives is incomparable, in fact, it is probably the only reason that friends and coworkers ask to have their picture taken by a relative amateur like myself. I can't go wrong with it...I just sit the subject near it and the photo comes out looking great. Well, at least the lighting does.
  13. At $1000+ I think that beast this is really a tool for pros only.

    I would think that Plume or the other brands would begin to give you the same effect but without the portability AND large soft light.

    Anyone here going to recommend a largish beauty dish with sock to this guy?
  14. How about a Large Photek shoot-through with the black outside sleeve and the satin inside. Then use a Photek sock to cover the opening exactly like a elinchrom. Same idea but the Photek is satin and not silver.
  15. Brooks Short - Tampa, Florida [​IMG] [​IMG] , Nov 27, 2006; 11:05 a.m.
    The Timothy Greenfield-Sanders portraits in the link above (thanks Frank) certainly make the point that a large diffused light source, such as the Octobank can produce a VERY DRAMATIC lighting.​
    Hi Brooks ! I think the same too ! do you know how does it set up the Octabank to have such a dramatic effect?
    Im thinking along the line, no outer diffuser, light to the side and quite far away?
  16. I saw his setup on TV a while ago and he does use an outer diffuser. He positioned is just to the right of the camera maybe about 8 ft. from the subject. He was shooting 8x10 BW Polaroid and BW 8x10 film.
  17. Hi Brooks thanks for your reply. I have seen the XXX documentary and seen that too. But what i notice is his color work is very different from his black and white "art" work, his color work he usually use large depth of field, quite even soft lighting when his black and white "art" work (http://www.greenfield-sanders.com/portraits/art) is usually very shallow depth of field, contrasty lighting. I'm just wondering how can he produce this contrasty lighting with an Octabank
    Thanks Brooks

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